Page images
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

• preaching.'. Theophylacti speaks to the like purpose. Theodoret k by the brother understood Barnabas: and therefore could not think of any written gospel, no such work having been ascribed to him by the ancients. (Ecumenius's note is to this purpose. Many! say, this bro*ther is Luke, mentioned upon account of the gospel com

posed by him. Many others suppose him to be Barna• bas : for, as they say, unwritten preaching is here called 'gospel ; which is the more likely: for what follows is

more suitable to Barnabas : “ whose praise is in the • gospel.” As much as to say, he not only preaches, but • commendably.' And afterwards. The meaning is, he

not only evangelizeth, and preacheth the gospel admirably, and commendably, but he has been chosen to travel • witb us, with this grace also. Such are the sentiments of the ancients upon this text.

Let us now observe the interpretations of some judicious moderns.

Grotius says: 'Hem does not dislike the opinion of those, • who think Luke to be here intended : but he does not think, that St. Paul refers to his book of the gospel, wbich was not then published : but to the office of an evan* gelist, wbich Luke had discharged in several places, or 'to his preaching the gospel. And he says, that in the gospel may be the same as by the gospel. So in ch. x. 14, of the same epistle.'

Estius likewise says, that " by gospel is to be understood preaching : not St. Luke's gospel, which we are not certain was then published.

Le Clerc, in bis French Testament, translates in this manner : “ One of our brethren, who is praised on account of the gospel in all the churches.” And in his notes says,

that generally St. Luke is bere supposed to be intended : • though St. Paul refers rather to his preaching the gospel, • than to the book of bis gospel.' Beausobre translates after this manner:

one of the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


i In loc. p. 389.

Τον τρισμακαριον Βαρναβαν τα elp nueva xapurtnaiset. Theod. in loc. T. II. p. 243.

Ecum. in loc. Tom. I. p. 663.

m Mihi non displicet sententia illorum, qui hic Lucam designari putant : ita tamen ut per evangelium non intelligatur liber, qui tunc editus nondum erat, sed ipsum munus evangelistæ, quod Lucas Pauli vice multis in locis fideliter obierat, sive ipsa evangelii prædicatio, ut infra, x. 14. ev • in,' pro dia * per.' Grot. ad 2 Cor. viii. 18.

Neque enim Paulus de evangelio scripto loquitur, sed, quo modo passim alibi, de evangelio prædicato. Deinde nec satis constat, evangelium Lucæ tum editum fuisse, quando Paulus hanc epistolam scripsit. Est. in loc.


[ocr errors]

brethren, who has made bimself famous in all the churches by [preaching) the gospel.” And

says in his notes : “ that • though some of the ancients have bereby understood St. • Luke, and his gospel ; he thinks, that by the gospel is • here intended the preaching of the gospel. Besides, there

is no proof, that St. Luke had as yet written his gospel : • it is rather reasonable to think, he had not.'

Upon the whole, though we cannot certainly say, who is the brother, whose praise was in the gospel : whether o Luke, or Barnabas, or Silas, or Apollos : I presume we are sufficiently warranted to say, that by gospel is here intended neither the gospel according to Luke, nor any other written gospel whatever.

III. 1 Tim. vi. 20,“ O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust.” Hereby some have been disposed to understand a written gospel : but they are not favoured by the best interpreters. Grotius says, that P this deposit, or thing committed to Timothy's trust, is the sacred doctrine of the gospel. Estius says 9 the same.

I place below likewise' a part of Beza's note upon this text. Le Clerc in his notes explains it thus : • The doctrine of the * gospel, wbich was a sacred deposit, committed by the

apostles to their disciples.' And Beausobre thus : 'The • doctrine, which had been committed to, or entrusted with • Timothy.' See also, says be, 1 Tim. i. 18, and 2 Tim. ii. 2. I say no more to this text.

IV. 2 Tim. i. 13, 14, " Hold fast the form of sound words, wbich thou hast heard of me-That good thing, which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us."

Hereby some may understand a written gospel, or bistory of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, I think, I need not add much here to what has been already said of the preceding text, it being nearly parallel. The meaning of both is much the same. Timothy is here again exhorted, and required, to retain with all fidelity those sound words, that

pure doctrine of the gospel, which he had been taught by the apostle, and had often beard from him.


• Vid. Est. in 2 Cor. viii. 18. et Beausobr. in ver. 18, et 23.

p Vocat autem depositum sacram doctrinam evangelii, quia et res est alterius, nempe Christi, et pastoribus fida ejus custodia incumbit. Grot. ad 1 Tim. vi. 20.

• Iteruni serio et graviter admonet, ut acceptam fidei doctrinam conservet, ne locum relinquat ulli peregrino doginati. Nomine depositi metaphorice significatur doctrina successori credita ac per manus tradita. Est. in loc.

Depositum proculdubio vocat sanam evangelii doctrinam, et dona quæcumque ad ecclesiæ ædificationem, veluti depositum, Deus commiserat Timotheo. ' Bez. in loc.

It does not appear, then, that there are in the apostolical epistles of the New Testament, any references to written gospels, or histories of Jesus Christ. I do not say this is a proof, that no such histories were then written. Nevertheless, I have thought it not improper to show, that there is no notice taken of any such histories in these epistles : and therefore they cannot afford any evidence of their being then written and published. I think likewise, that it was not amiss to embrace this occasion to show the true meaning of some texts, which have been often inisinterpreted.


Observations of ancient christian writers, leading to the

true time when the gospels were written.

[ocr errors]



1. SAYS Irenæus, as formerly a quoted, . For we have not

received the knowledge of the way of our salvation from . any others, than those, by whom the gospel has been . brought to us: which gospel they first preached, and af• terwards by the will of God committed to writing, that • for time to come it might be the foundation and pillar of our faith. Nor may any say, that they preached before

they had a complete knowledge of the doctrine of the ' gospel. For after that our Lord rose from the dead, and

they [the apostles] were endowed from above with the * power of the Holy Ghost coming down upon them, they • received a perfect knowledge of all things. They then • went forth to all the ends of the earth, declaring to men • the blessing of heavenly peace, having all of them, and every one alike, the gospel of God.'

He then proceeds to speak of the gospels of the four evangelists severally, and the times and occasions of writ

a See Vol. ii. p. 169.

b Non enim per alios dispositionem salutis nostræ cognovimus, quam per eos, per quos evangelium pervenit ad nos : quod quidem tunc præconiaverunt, postea vero per Dei voluntatem in scripturis nobis tradiderunt, fundamentum et columnam fidei nostræ futurum. Nec enim fas est dicere, quoniam ante prædicaverunt, quam perfectam haberent agnitionem, sicut quidam audent dicere, gloriantes, emendatores se esse apostolorum. Postea enim quam surrexit Dominus noster a mortuis, et induti sunt supervenientis Spiritûs Sancti virtutem ex alto, de omnibus adimpleti sunt, et habuerant perfectam agni. tionem, exierunt in fines terræ, ea quæ a Deo nobis bona sunt evangelizantes, et cælestem pacem hominibus annunciantes; qui quidem et omnes pariter et singuli eorum habentes evangelium Dei-Iren. Adv. Hær. l. 3. cap. 1.



ing them. All which will be taken down by us bereafter in proper places. Here is sufficient to induce us to think, that the written gospels, or histories of Jesus Christ, were not published till some good wbile after our Lord's ascension. For the apostles first preached, he says, before they wrote.

2. Says Eusebius in a long passage formerly quoted : • Tbose é admirable and truly divine men, the apostles of • Christ, —-neither knew, nor attempted, to deliver the • doctrine of their Master with the artifice and eloquence of ' words—Nor were they greatly concerned about the writ

ing of books, being engaged in a more excellent ministry, · which is above all human power. Insomuch, that Paul, • the most able of all in the furniture both of words and

thoughts, bas left nothing in writing, beside a few epistles. .-Nor were the rest of our Saviour's followers unacquaint

ed with these things, as the seventy disciples, and many • others, besides the twelve apostles. Nevertheless of all the • disciples of our Lord, Matthew and John only have left • us any memoirs : who too, as we have been informed,

were compelled to write by a kind of necessity.' And what follows.

3. This passage should be compared with another of a Origen: and they who please may also consult our remarks € upon what has been now transcribed from Eusebius. Which may be of use to caution us, not to be too precipitate in giving a very early date to the gospels, as if they were written immediately after our Lord's ascension : when there is no reason to think, they were not written, till after numerous converts had been made, who expressed their desires to have written histories of what they had beard, for refreshing their memories.

4. Says Theodore, bishop of Mopsuestia, in the latter part of the fourth century, about the year 394. * After the Lord's ascension to heaven the disciples stayed a good while at Jerusalem, visiting the cities in its neighbour• hood, preaching chiefly to the Jews : until the great • Paul, called by the divine grace, was appointed to preach • the gospel to Gentiles openly. And in process of time · Divine Providence, not allowing them to be confined * to any one part of the earth, made way for conducting

them to remote countries : Peter went to Rome, the others • elsewhere. John in particular took up his abode at • Ephesus, visiting, however, at seasons, the several parts of • Vol. iv. p. 95.

d Vol. ii. p. 494. e Vol. iv. p. 109-115.

Ib. p. 398.

to say,


• Asia-About this time the other evangelists, Matthew, • Mark, and Luke, published their gospels, which were

soon spread all over the world, and were received by all • the faithful in general with great regard. --He proceeds

• that nevertheless, the christians in Asia, having • brought those gospels to him, earnestly entreated him to ' write a farther account of such things as were needful to • be known, and had been omitted by the rest: with which request he complied.'

This remarkable passage, upon wbich divers observations were made wben it was first quoted, may dispose us to think, that all the four gospels were written about the same time, and that none of them were published till after, or about the sixtieth year of our Lord's nativity.

5. By divers ancient christian writers it is said that Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, at the desire of the brethren of Rome, wrote a short gospel, according to what he had heard related by Peter. So Jerom, beside others, as before quoted in his book of Illustrious Men.

St. Peter, I reckon, did not come to Rome before the reign of Nero, probably, not till the second time that Paul was in that city, in the year 63, or 64. And yet, at this time, the christians at Rome desired Mark to give them in writing an account of Peter's preaching, for refreshing their memories concerning what the apostle had said of Christ, and his doctrine. The consequence is manifest. They had not then any written gospel in their hands; nor did they know that there was one. • The truth is,' says Mr. Jones, • if St. Mark, or any one else, had had St. Matthew's gos

pel, at Rome, there would have been no need of St. Mark's • writing.'

These are general observations in the ancients, or deduced from them, wbich may be of no small use to lead us to the true time of writing the first three gospels. B See Vol. ii. p. 121, 122, 225–232.

Vol. iv. p. 188, &c. h Vol. iv. ch. cxiv, num. viii. 2. i Vindication of the former Part of St. Matthew's Gospel, p. 54. ch. vi.


« PreviousContinue »